Sweat prickles on the back of her neck, her palms, her armpits, the small of her pack. She feels the individual beads the same way she feels the pressure on her ribs of a dress that’s ever-so-slightly too tight. She keeps her back to the mirror while Felix does her makeup - probably some play on her usual get-up but fancier, lighter, more even.
She rubs her hands against her thighs absently, feeling the gauzy fabric beneath her fingers. The dress is a deep silver - and she says silver rather than grey because it shimmers - with black scrollwork traveling up from the hem and curling over the bodice. It’s elegant. Sarah feels that in the ramrod-straightness of her spine, if not in the fabric she keeps running her fingertips over.
"Would you stand still?" Felix snaps, leaning back from her, eye shadow applicator poised between his long fingers. He’s holding a monochrome palette in his other hand. "I’m trying to clean you up - Lord knows you need help with that one.”
Sarah rolls her eyes. “Piss off, Fe. I’m nervous enough as it is.”
And it’s true. Her stomach is tying itself in knots, flipping over and doing it all over again. She’d never even been invited to a wedding before, and now this. She sucks in a deep breath and squares her shoulders, closing her eyes so Felix can work.
He rests his wrist on her bare shoulder, probably to keep her from squirming as he gently brushes on layer after seemingly endless layer of eye shadow. He gives little commands in a soft voice, things like open, look up, look down. Sarah jumps when the palette snaps shut.
He bends down to dig in his makeup bag, resting on the floor like the ruins of a great empire. “Liquid eyeliner, yeah?” he calls up.
Sarah doesn’t bother answering. How can she possibly think about something like eyeliner? If she wasn’t already sitting, she’d probably be worried about being able to hold herself up.
She follows his instructions again, opening her eyes, closing them, looking up, looking down, whatever he asks. It’s so much easier that way. Her hands have subconsciously bunched around fistfuls of fabric. Felix forgoes the makeover to ease her fingers open.
"Come on, darling," he says gently. "Let’s have a look-see." He takes her chin gingerly between his fingers, turning her head slowly. "You look beautiful, Sarah."
She leans forward and wraps her arms around him tightly, not trusting herself to form words.
Cosima is in red - of course. Her dress slim, hugging her hips and ending in a pool of glistening fabric on the floor. She did her makeup herself, preferring not to have someone with her in these last moments before the big event. Just her and her thoughts.
Her happiness, bubbling over in her chest; her nerves coiling in her gut, tangling with those butterflies that always comes when she thinks of the name. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. She stares deep into her eyes, seeing a stranger without the familiar glasses.
There’s a knock at the door before Alison pokes her head in, wearing a modest purple dress. “Are you ready?”
Cosima’s face breaks into a slow grin. “Hell yeah,” she says.
They’re tying the knot at a vineyard. The leaves on the vines, ripe with bulging grapes (Cosima would insist excitedly that they’d been treated with gibberellins to grow to that impossible size, despite the adamant protestations by the owner that they’d never consider modifying their crop), refract the sunlight, sending it skittering in fragments across the guests. Murmured voices swell and ebb in waves as the attendees wait for the ceremony to begin.
Cosima stands under an archway whose sole purpose, entwined is it is with vines and placed between rows, is weddings and ceremonies. Cosima fell in love with it, but Sarah couldn’t care less about the venue or the dresses or the traditions or the ceremony. (In fact, she thinks it’s all a load of bollocks, which she admits freely to Felix who stands beside her just out of sight of the onlookers.) But she’d do it for Cosima.
She’d sign away her freedom (her fears and her ability to run from them) for Cosima. She’d tie herself to one place, one person - as long as that person is Cosima. And as she marches forward, hoping not to topple in the heels (why didn’t she just wear her boots? No one would have noticed anyway), the sunlight is eclipsed behind Cosima’s figure up on the raised platform beneath the arch.
And Sarah is finally, finally ready to stop running.